Whoever thought rice husk can generate power needs a medal! Considering how much rice husks go to waste in a country where rice is the staple food, it is comforting to know fossil fuels are not our only resort for power production. Thanks to Manoj Shinha, a renewable energy entrepreneur pioneered using discarded rice husks as biomass to provide energy to Bihar, one of India’s poorest states. Mr. Shinha along with his colleagues Gaynesh Pandey, Ratnesh Yadav and Charles W. Ransler developed Husk Power Systems to address the situation of poverty in their home state of Bihar. Many villages in India live off the grid in the darkness, this new advancement means that they need not depend on grid for electricity, rather generate their own clean, affordable electricity.The company generates and sells electricity for a price that is less than half of what the villagers pay for kerosene. This was possible because the whole concept is focused on research and development investment to simplify energy production and transmission, such as using bamboo instead of cement posts to install power lines.And, since communities no longer use kerosene, wood or dung for electricity, this way of electricity generation lowers the environmental and health hazards. In addition, rice husk ash, a byproduct of the gasification process, can be used for concrete production thus reducing the amount of high-carbon Portland restless leg syndrome cement.On average, a single power plant serves 400 houses, replacing 42,000 liters of kerosene and 18,000 liters of diesel yearly. As of August 2010, H.P.S. has sequestered 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Currently, they have installed over 60 mini-power plants that are 100 percent biomass-based which supply power to over 25,000 households in more than 250 villages.With the market opportunity in mind, they aim to expand their business to bring clean electricity to Indian villages by installing 2,000 new plants by 2014 beyond Bihar.
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